TCT cash aid program to cushion impact of inflation for poor Pinoys–Neda chief

The release of the government’s Targeted Cash Transfer (TCT) program will help shield millions of poor Filipinos from the impact of high commodity prices, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said the TCT is an important intervention to protect consumers, particularly the poor, from the decline in their purchasing power.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has already approved the release of the Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) worth P4.1 billion for the TCT Program.

“The timely release of the fund is crucial in the government’s efforts to help the poor cope with the continuous rise in commodity prices due to external shocks and other factors,” Balisacan said in a news statement issued on Wednesday.

Balisacan said protecting the poor from the further erosion of the purchasing power is among the priorities of the Marcos administration’s 8-point Socioeconomic Agenda.

Neda is tasked to flesh out the 8-point Agenda in the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028, which socioeconomic agency has committed to deliver by the end of the year.

“Our near-term goal as envisioned in our 8-point Agenda is to safeguard Filipinos against the most pressing issues today, which are rising inflation and the lingering socioeconomic scarring caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Balisacan said.

In June, the rapid increase in commodity prices led to the reduction of the purchasing power of the peso to only P0.87 centavos. This means, in order to buy goods worth P1, every Filipino must shell out P0.13 centavos more or P1.13.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said based on their estimates, the level of the purchasing power of the peso was at P0.89 in March 2022. This means, there was a P0.02-centavo decline in the value of the currency in terms of purchasing goods and services.

For the poorest Filipinos, their purchasing power is even lower. The BusinessMirror estimated that for the Bottom 30 percent or the poorest 30 percent of the population, the value of the currency is at P0.72 centavos as of June 2022 from P0.74 centavos in March 2022.

The budget allotment is part of the second tranche requirements for implementing the TCT program. It will benefit over 4 million beneficiaries, who mostly belong to the poorest 50 percent of the country’s population.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has been tasked to distribute the cash subsidy. Under the program, the DSWD will also provide P500 per month for two months. Distribution will be through remittance centers, Special Disbursing Officers, and the Land Bank of the Philippines.

Under the guidelines of the TCT program, the DSWD will facilitate the distribution of cash grants amounting to P3,000, or P500 per month for six months.

Its guidelines were released through the Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1, s. 2022 of the Department of Finance, Neda, DBM, and DSWD.